Histone H2AX Phosphorylation: A Marker for DNA Damage

  • Arishya Sharma
  • Kamini Singh
  • Alexandru AlmasanEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 920)


The DNA damage response can be initiated in response to a variety of stress signals that are encountered during physiological processes or in response to exogenous cues, such as ionizing radiation or DNA-damaging therapeutic agents. A number of methods have been developed to examine the morphological, biochemical, and molecular changes that take place during the DNA damage response. When cells are exposed to ionizing radiation or DNA-damaging chemotherapeutic agents, double-stranded breaks (DSBs) are generated that rapidly result in the phosphorylation of histone H2A variant H2AX. Because phosphorylation of H2AX at Ser 139 (γ-H2AX) is abundant, fast, and correlates well with each DSB, it is the most sensitive marker that can be used to examine the DNA damage produced and the subsequent repair of the DNA lesion. γ-H2AX can be detected by immunoblotting and immunostaining using microscopic or flow cytometric detection. Since γ-H2AX can be also generated during DNA replication, as a consequence of apoptosis, or as it is found associated with residual DNA damage, it is important to determine the kinetics, number, size, and morphology of γ-H2AX-associated foci. This chapter describes a few standard protocols that we have successfully used in our laboratory for a number of experimental systems, primarily hematologic and epithelial cells grown in culture.

Key words

γ-H2AX DNA damage Flow cytometry Immunofluorescence Immunoblotting Ionizing radiation Lymphocytes Epithelial cells 



This work was supported by a research grant from National Institutes of Health (CA127264-03 to A.A.).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arishya Sharma
    • 1
  • Kamini Singh
    • 1
  • Alexandru Almasan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Cancer BiologyLerner Research Institute Cleveland ClinicClevelandUSA

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